Kyrie Irving reveals he’s been playing on a bad foot since Round One

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CHICAGO — The hits keep coming for the Cavaliers. Following their Game 3 loss to the Bulls at the United Center (sealed on a miracle buzzer-beater from Derrick Rose), head coach David Blatt revealed yet another setback for one of his most important players.

Kyrie Irving has been playing with a sore foot apparently since Game 2 of the Cavs’ first-round sweep of the Celtics. On Friday night, he shot 3-for-13 from the field for 11 points and posted a box score line that LeBron James told him earlier this year that he could in no uncertain terms ever record: a no-assist game.

“Kyrie has been playing hurt,” Blatt said after the game. “He has been giving us all he has and will continue to do that. He had two great games and today was just a little less successful. He has a sore foot and is playing through it.”

The injury certainly didn’t hamper Irving in the first two games of the series: he scored 30 points in Game 1 and 21 points in Game 2, looking as explosive as ever driving to the basket.

“Probably in Game 2 of the Boston series,” Irving said when asked when he first suffered the injury. “I have just been trying to get treatment since then. I just have to stay ready to play. There are no excuses and I have to play through it. Coach was trying to protect me with what he said. Tonight, I am not hanging my head nor using a bad foot as an excuse.”

At the podium next to him, LeBron James deflected criticism from his teammate in no uncertain terms.

“He gave us 40 minutes on one foot,” James said. “Kyrie could have had 40 assists and if D-Rose makes that shot, we still lose. I had seven turnovers.”

Irving’s status for Sunday’s Game 4 is yet to be determined, but losing him would be a death knell for a Cavs team that’s already playing shorthanded. With Kevin Love out for the year with a separated shoulder, even more pressure has fallen on James and Irving to carry the Cavs’ shaky supporting cast. Even if Irving plays, he’s going to be limited in what he can do, and the Cavs cannot afford any more health setbacks.

“I am staying out there for my brothers,” Irving said. “I can be a decoy, set screens and do whatever I can to help us win. I just have to get treatment and come out and play.”

Jalen Rose in touch with Chris Webber to end well-publicized feud

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In a wide-ranging interview with Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, Jalen Rose says he and Chris Webber are in touch and plan to privately settle their differences.

“We’re in contact currently and we’re brothers,” Rose said of Webber. “So I always feel like anything that we need to say needs to be face to face, eyeball to eyeball, without any distractions, without any hype, without any camera. That’s the big-boy way to do that. That’s my brother.”

Rose and Webber started to make amends after former University of Michigan teammate Juwan Howard was named head coach of the Wolverines.

Rose said the only change he’d make to the 2011 “Fab Five” documentary he directed for ESPN is that he’d love to have an interview with Webber in there. “The only change would be to get a 2011 interview from C-Webb,” Rose said. “Other than that, it was the bible.”

Rose also touched on his desire for Michigan to honor the “Fab Five” in some way. The team’s two Final Four banners from that era were removed because of NCAA violations. Rose feels that the school should still honor those teams.

“None of our jerseys are retired, but one of us is the coach of the team,” Rose said. “I watch a lot of college basketball, I see their numbers get retired, and I’m happy for them. I did three years at Michigan, they have to do one black banner, put the maize and blue on the outside of it, and put the five numbers up there and still let the people wear the numbers. Make it a Fab Five banner. I hope it doesn’t take something to happen to one of us in order for it to take place. And the Basketball Hall of Fame, too, we can’t get a plaque in there? Give us our flowers while we’re still here.”

If Nets want Chris Chiozza for playoffs it could cost Theo Pinson a roster spot

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If the NBA season is able to resume, and the Brooklyn Nets want Chris Chiozza to be a part of their playoff rotation, they’ve got a decision to make. According to the New York Post that decision could cost Theo Pinson his roster spot.

Chiozza is currently signed to a Two-Way contract with the Nets. Two-Way players are ineligible for the NBA Playoffs. In order for Chiozza to be on Brooklyn’s playoff roster, they’d have to create a roster spot for him.

That’s where Pinson comes in. Pinson is in his second year with the Nets, but hasn’t been a part of the rotation for the majority of the season. Brooklyn holds a team option for Pinson at $1.7 million for 2020-21, but could waive him to create a spot for Chiozza.

At the beginning of March, Chiozza became the Nets backup point guard behind Spencer Dinwiddie. With Kyrie Irving out for the season following shoulder surgery, Dinwiddie and Chiozza are the only available pure point guards on the team. In five March games, Chiozza played 19.1 minutes per game and averaged 10 points. He shot 55.9% from the field overall and 52.6% from behind the arc over that period as well.

Part of the consideration with keeping Pinson would be for trade purposes this summer. Brooklyn is reportedly looking to add a third star player via trade to add alongside Irving and Kevin Durant. Pinson’s $1.7 million salary could help towards matching purposes in a trade.

French point guard Theo Maledon declares for NBA draft

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French point guard Theo Maledon has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot-five Maledon is declaring as an Early Entry candidate from the international ranks. International players who do not turn 22 in the calendar year of the draft can declare as Early Entry players.

At 18 years old, Maledon was a part-time starter for ASVEL Basket in France in the French Pro A League. ASVEL Basket is owned in part by former NBA player Tony Park, who also serves as the club’s president. Maleon started in 23 of the 46 games he played for ASVEL Basket this season.

In 46 games with ASVEL, Maledon averaged 7.3 points per game. He shot 42.1% from the floor, including 33.3% on three-pointers. He also averaged 2.7 assists per game. In mid-January, against former NBA player Shane Larkin and Turkish club Anadolu Efes, Maledon started and dished out 10 assists, while scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds.

In part due to his size for the point guard position, and his excellent play on the youth level, ESPN has Maledon ranked 15th in their top-100 prospects. He’s widely expected to be in the mix to be a lottery pick.

Players have until Sunday, April 26 to declare as Early Entry candidates. The deadline to withdraw as an Early Entry candidate is Monday, June 15. The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled to be held on Thursday, June 25.

Report: Pacers GM Chad Buchanan turns down interview with Bulls

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Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan has reportedly declined an opportunity to interview for a front office job with the Chicago Bulls.

Buchanan joined the Pacers in 2017 as their general manager under President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. Prior to moving to Indiana, Buchanan was the assistant general manager with the Charlotte Hornets.

In turning down the Bulls opportunity, Buchanan cited how well he and his family have been treated in Indiana. Buchanan had previously worked with Pritchard when both were members of the Portland Trail Blazers front office.

Chicago is replacing John Paxson and Gar Forman at the top of their front office structure. Paxson and Forman have led the Bulls basketball operations together since 2009. Chicago’s search will now reportedly focus on Arturas Karnisovas of the Denver Nuggets, Adam Simon of the Miami Heat and Bobby Webster of the Toronto Raptors.